Michael Dunlop hit the top of the Superbike times on the eve of the opening race of the 2018 Isle of Man TT with a lap of nearly 133mph.

The RST Superbike race will be held over six laps on Saturday, with Dunlop, Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman the standout favourites.

After a 35-minute delay, due to oil being swept at the Graham Memorial following a road accident which resulted in stationary yellow flags being shown along the Verandah and waved yellow flags at the Memorial itself, it was 6.55pm when the first bikes set off down Glencrutchery Road on Friday evening.

Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) and James Hillier (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) led the field away.

They were followed in quick succession by Ian Hutchinson (Honda Racing) and Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing BMW), Dunlop, Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW), Gary Johnson (RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki) and David Johnson (Gulf BMW).

First to complete a lap was Harrison at 131.56mph, the aforementioned yellow flags keeping the overall speeds down although sector times, from Dunlop on his Superbike and Peter Hickman on his Superstock, were impressive.

Dunlop’s lap was the quickest at 132.33mph with Hillier (128.37), Rutter (127.45) and Hutchinson (127.16) flashing over the line in quick succession. Conor Cummins was again going well at 129.03mph with Gary Johnson posting his quickest lap of the week at 127.80mph.

Hickman lapped at 130.09mph to top the Superstock speeds with James Cowton doing similar in the Supersport class with 123.38mph.

However, the red flag came out shortly after the front runners completed their first lap due to an incident at Hailwood Rise and although none of the riders involved were injured, more oil had to be cleared from the circuit.

It was 7.43pm before the session got underway once more with Hillier and Dunlop getting away first on this occasion and the latter was first back with a lap of 132.66mph whilst Hillier put in his first 130mph+lap of the week at 130.64mph. Hickman had also gone quicker on the Superstock BMW at 130.83mph with David Johnson above the 130mph barrier (130.10) as well. Hutchinson also set his fastest lap of TT2018 at 128mph.

Dunlop completed his first flying lap of the week after going straight through, upping his pace to 133.983mph to set his fastest lap of the week.

Meanwhile, newcomer Adam Lyon put in a superb lap of 123.44mph on his 600cc Yamaha.

The session eventually concluded at 8.05pm with the Formula Two Sidecars getting their final session underway at 8.10pm.

John Holden/Lee Cain were fastest at 115.73mph ahead of Saturday’s race, although last year’s winners Ben and Tom Birchall set the fastest lap in excess of 116mph.

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